By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – President Donald Trump raised the idea of easing U.S. sanctions on Iran, prompting yet another in a series of disagreements with former National Security Advisor John Bolton shortly before he was dismissed, according to a report published Wednesday.
Bolton, a staunch foreign policy hawk, particularly on Iran, staunchly opposed the idea, Bloomberg reported citing three anonymous individuals who it said were privy to the matter.
The sanctions idea, a bid to get Iran to accept new negotiations with the U.S., was floated during an Oval Office meeting Monday, just one day before Bolton got the boot. It had the backing of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, according to some of those who spoke to Bloomberg. The news outlet did not specify how many people corroborated the issue.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters shortly after Bolton's ouster that Trump is open to meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without preconditions ahead of the UN General Assembly gathering in New York Sept. 25-Oct. 1.
Unlike Bolton, Pompeo has spent his time in office toeing closely Trump's line on matters of foreign policy.
The White House has begun to prepare for a possible Trump-Rouhani meeting on the UN meeting's sidelines, Bloomberg reported. But Tehran has opposed any dialogue with Washington as long as the U.S. maintains its biting economic sanctions on the country, making it unclear whether they would accept the sit down at all.
Two of the anonymous individuals Bloomberg spoke to said that one idea includes having Trump join a bilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and Rouhani.
Leaders in Europe have been seeking to find common ground between Iran and the U.S. after Trump unilaterally left a 2015 nuclear accord world powers struck with Iran in a bid to curtail its nuclear program.
Iran has since taken successive steps in violation of the agreement in an effort to build pressure on Europe after the Trump administration reinstated economic sanctions that were lifted per the deal's terms, and issued additional waves of economic penalties, all of which have severely hindered Iran's economy.
But Bolton's abrupt firing has raised the chances that the sanctions could be scaled back. He continued his hardline approach to the Islamic Republic after taking the White House role, and was one of the chief architects of the administration's "maximum pressure" campaign.